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Interview: Lewis van Poetsch

By Oliver McManus: Lewis van Poetsch has got to be one of the most enamored figures across British boxing, a legend in his own right but for those unacquainted with Poochi’s story, he isn’t some multi-weight, world conqueror but rather quite the opposite, fighting week in week out with against people expected to win, there is little glamour in the sport of boxing for Lewis but there’s one hell of a lot of passion and heart which is part of the reason why everyone loves him so much… anyway I caught up with a couple weeks ago and here is what he had to say:

Let’s talk about how you first got into boxing?

I went to watch a friend of mine in the ABA finals against Luke Campbell, of all people, and I always liked the atmosphere, I was 14 years old, and I loved the atmosphere. I’d always been sporty and quite good at fair few so I thought “I’m going to try this out” so I waited until September and gave it a go, hooked ever since.

At what point did you think there could actually be a professional career in it?

It was always in the back of my head, actually, after my first fight I thought “I’d love to be a professional boxer” and I used to watch Friday Night Fights on Sky back when Frank Warren was on there and I would love to be a professional boxer so I thought, screw it, I’m going to work towards it.

I’m assuming you don’t enter it expecting it to become a journeyman?

No, no, and most people don’t but I was a bit naïve towards the sport at the beginning, I didn’t really know how it worked but I quickly realised how hard it was, especially to sell tickets, I’m from a small town and there’s not really many people you can sell a ticket to, to be fair, let alone enough to get a crowd at local arenas so that was part and parcel with my decision. I took a fight on late notice, at York Hall, my third fight (against Scrappa Smith) and, again, I was a bit naïve. Keith Mayo, my manager at the time, said “do you want to fight in London at the weekend?” and I said “how am I going to sell tickets on three days’ notice?”, that’s when he told me I just had to turn up and fight and I was thinking I’d give this a go, turned up, beat the kid and started thinking why I was selling tickets when I could just turn up and fight and still got the dough. That’s what I’ve done ever since.

Has there ever been a point (aside from your two retirements) where you thought about packing it in?

I love boxing, I’ve loved it since I started and even when I haven’t been boxing and done the “retirements”, inverted commas, I was still watching boxing, I was still in contact with Rich who’s my trainer and manager, still going to shows and catching up online, forums, YouTube, allsorts.

When you do properly retire will we still see you in boxing?

Well I keep getting asked about when I’m going to get my trainer’s license and I’ve just renewed my boxing license so I was thinking about doing it this time around but I haven’t really got the time, if I’m honest, but sooner rather than later because as soon as I can do that the transition gets easier.

Does it irritate you sometimes when the word journeyman gets banded around as an insult?

People that know boxing know boxing, people that don’t know boxing don’t know what a journeyman but you can’t be a bad boxer and be a journeyman, it’s simple. You’ve got to know your way around a ring and look after yourself. People who look at my record or Kristian Laight’s record will think “fucking hell he needs to give it up, he hasn’t won in about 100 fights” but people who know boxing, like yourself, will say “actually, he’s quite decent”.

Who is the best opponent you’ve faced, then?

Been in with a few good ones, probably the best all round would be Zach Parker but I boxed him on his debut so it’s hard to gauge that, he wanted the rounds and wanted to impress but he just seemed tactically fantastic. Lerrone Richards is another good one, Sam Eggington obviously, Curtis Woodhouse, but Zach and Lerrone are probably the top two.

If you could match yourself with another journeyman to win the battle of journeymen, who would it be?

To win the battle of all journeyman? So the question is am I going to be the top journeyman? I don’t know really, have I got to win or lose?

Well Youssef Al-Hamidi and Kristian Laight fought to a draw the other week…

It’s funny that, I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but there’s times when you need to get a result or put in a good performance as a journeyman because obviously if you’re losing too much, the Board will pull you in for a meeting, they’ve got a duty of care to look after us guys and they don’t want any lasting damage so sometimes you’ll get a couple of journeyman in with each other so that they can have a more competitive match-up than usual.

Where did the dressing gown come from, I feel like you must have been asked this before?

So I’ve got no hair but I had a big ginger beard and I was thinking I had to shave it, people said I looked homeless, and this was around October time last year with Halloween coming up so I thought, what shall I do? I thought I’d go as Charlie Bronson, so I shaved the beard off and was thinking, in the mirror, shadow-boxing, I thought I could pull this off.

I got some old-school boots, old-school shorts and make them even shorter so I could be a bit of a throwback, get a ‘tache, chuck in the dressing gown for the ring walk and add a flat cap to make it a 1950’s throwback fighter and everyone seems to enjoy it.

Does it seem odd when most people prefer seeing you than the person who’s meant to win?

I wouldn’t go that far, people like yourself, journalists who see us every week, will prefer it but a lot of the fans want to see their mate but yeah, the support means a lot if I’m honest.

If you were a sweet, Lewis, what sweet would you be?

Tangfastic would be good, the cola bottle or the key one, they’re nice but I do like squashies, they’re decent so one of those two I reckon.

And there we have it, the nation’s favourite journeyman, Poochi van Poestch, I don’t know what else to say really but what a man. Almost wish I was him, really.

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